Black Friday was a big hit for many UK business in November 2014, contributing to the highest year-on-year increase in high street sales since 2014 and seeing more than £800m spent online in just one day2.
This year, it takes place on 27 November and is expected to become the country’s first £1bn online sales day3. But despite this predicted surge in transactions, both online and in-store, many small businesses in the UK are worryingly unprepared for the Black Friday weekend2.
Find out how you can get your business shipshape for the big day and seize the opportunity to boost sales in the lead up to Christmas.
1. Get your website ready
Did you know almost 1 in 5 customers will only wait 10 seconds for a website to load before heading elsewhere?4 Coping with the surge in web traffic was the biggest challenge businesses faced last Black Friday2, so you should start with ensuring you have enough IT capacity.
Emmanuel Eribo, co-founder of footwear retailer Butterfly Twists , saw his website get around 4 times the normal amount of visits last Black Friday. So he knows the importance of using a good web hosting service. “We use a scalable server that can handle high volumes of traffic. You should have robust IT systems set up when e-commerce is an important part of your business,” he says.
With customers being offered online deals at every turn, it’s vital to make sure you have a simple payment journey in place, too. If the payment process isn’t quick and easy to follow then there’s a risk people may up sticks and go elsewhere instead.
Our website payment solutions offer a simple payment page for you to integrate into your website that accepts all major debit and credit cards. You can also customise your payment page to suit your business and customers, and access real-time online reporting to help you keep track of sales.
2. Give your sales a shout out
To benefit from the boost in customer spending, it’s essential to promote your deals and stand out from your biggest rivals. Emmanuel stresses the importance of being visible: “You need to get yourself out there, it won’t just land on your doorstep. We’ll be using banner ads and email notifications.
Sunglasses retailer Brave & The Bold and recent start-up is turning to social media to promote Black Friday deals. “We’ll put a post up on Facebook and pay to boost it so it appears higher in the news feed and more people see it,” says Emma Reilly, Brave & The Bold founder.
3. Stay on top of stock
For Sanjay Aggarwal of Spice Kitchen , an Indian spices and cookware retailer, stock management is the most important part of preparation. Having seen sales increase by more than 100% last Black Friday, compared to an average working day, Sanjay emphasises the need to have sufficient stock. “It’s all about preparation. We’ve made predictions on sales and got the maximum capacity of stock in. You need to know you can continue to meet demand on Black Friday, throughout the weekend and up to Christmas.
4. Offer pick ’n’ mix payments
With the risk of increased web traffic causing an IT meltdown, it’s wise to offer a choice of payment methods. Don’t just rely on online systems. “Many people call to make enquiries, and we find offering to take payment over the phone can help move the customer journey more quickly from enquiry to sale,” says Sanjay.
Taking payments over the phone, or even by post, is easy with a Barclaycard virtual terminal . Each member of staff can access the terminal with their own ID and take payments on multiple devices – making sales during busy periods swifter.
If your Black Friday transactions will be largely in-store, help speed up sales (and cut down queues or in-store scrums) by taking payments with a portable card terminal . With a range of up to 100 metres and the ability to support up to 3 card terminals on each base unit, a portable terminal is perfect for queue busting. It can also take contactless payments for purchases of £30* and under for even swifter sales.
Running a pop-up shop or Christmas market stall? is a great option for taking payments on the go. Simply download the app, plug in your card reader and take payments wherever you have 3G/4G or Wi-Fi.
5. Put your heart and soul into customer service
At a time when new business may be flooding in, good customer service is more crucial than ever. Last Black Friday, Butterfly Twists upped the number of hands on deck to keep on top of customer enquiries. “Usually we have somebody working in customer services for just an hour and a half in the morning, but for Black Friday we knew we’d need someone in for the full day,” says Emmanuel.
Once the peak Christmas sales period has died down, it’s important to keep customer service standards soaring. Make sure any refund requests are turned around quickly and smoothly. You can do this easily by arming staff with a Barclaycard virtual terminal so they can refund customers online or by phone.
6. Don’t delay deliveries
Last year, even large retailers struggled to cope with the unexpected demand from Black Friday shoppers, and had no choice but to extend delivery times6. Royal Mail’s advice is to partner up with your delivery provider to predict shipping volumes and get ready for the surge in demand3.
Spice Kitchen does all its packing and mailing itself, and has already begun to batten down the hatches to prepare for increased demand. “We’ve opened a Royal Mail account and bought labelling machines. On busy days we’ll make multiple trips to the Post Office and sometimes bring in additional help,” says Sanjay. “Flexibility to demand is essential for staying efficient.”
* Barclaycard MasterCard personal customers have a £20 limit for contactless payments